01/29/2018 3:26PM

With clock ticking down, Olczyk puts the biscuit in the basket


Eddie Olczyk scored plenty of big goals in his NHL career and was part of more than a few impressive comebacks. Saturday night at Gulfstream Park he added another to the list – coming back from the brink of elimination to win the first ever Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship.

Olczyk’s bankroll stood just over the minimum requirement of $3,000 heading into the Pegasus World Cup, the final race in the two-day contest that awarded $371,000 to horseplayers in an event that had no entry fee.

He saw the Pegasus as plain as day. In a perfect world, he’d have been able to just leverage his opinion in the exacta, a lower-risk pool. But with his bankroll down to the nub he knew he’d have to be more aggressive and try to hit the trifecta. In a sense, it was the horse racing equivalent of having to pull the goalie.

Olczyk had been in a similar position before, at the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge at Santa Anita.

“I tried to use my experience to my advantage to come up with a ticket that gave me a chance,” he explained. “Two years ago at the Breeders’ Cup I thought it was ice cold Arrogate over California Chrome, but I didn’t think I had enough money to get what I needed with the exacta. I thought about playing a $1,000 tri wheel, but I chickened out.”

This time around he wasn’t going to make the same mistake.

“I thought, ‘How do I turn that $17 exacta [for $2] into a $55 trifecta [for $1]?’ ” he asked himself. “There were two horses I thought could get third, Gunnevera and Seeking the Soul.”

He ended up betting about $3,500 total, with some of that in exactas, a tri part-wheel with Gunnevera and Seeking the Soul in third, and an additional straight tri Gun Runner-West Coast-Gunnevera. At one point that latter ticket was $500, but he went back and reduced that amount, choosing instead to play a saver with West Coast winning. While this obviously cost him some money this time around, strategically it was good thinking. As it was, he had enough to win with $1,160 worth of Gun Runner-West Coast-Gunnevera and reducing the size of that wager allowed him to cover another possibility.

“I’m just really glad that canceled bet didn’t cost me the contest,” he admitted.

In the end, he ended up with $65,858.20 on his bankroll, a few thousand clear of Tom Maloof in second.

“I wasn’t sure if it would be enough,” he said, “but the stars were aligned and I was very thankful.”

The victory meant all the more for two reasons. To borrow a metaphor from a different sport, he was like Babe Ruth calling his shot in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series against his hometown Cubs. Olczyk gave out the cold exacta on NBC, meaning there were many horseplayers out there who got to share in the win.

Then there’s the matter of his health. Olczyk is in the midst of a battle with colon cancer. He is approaching the end of his chemotherapy treatment.

“I’d just like to thank the horse racing industry for all the support, messages, and well-wishes,” he said. “I couldn’t do it myself, and everybody in the game has been so kind.”

Here is a look at the top five from the Pegasus tournament:


Winner: Eddie Olczyk

Final bankroll: $65,858.20

Prize: $137,500 + BCBC and NHC package

Second place: Tom Maloof

Final bankroll: $62,294

Prize: $38,500 + NHC package

Third place: Scotty McKeever

Final bankroll: $62,115

Prize: $27,500 + NHC package

Fourth place: Eric Pineiro

Final bankroll: $37,470

Prize: $19,250 + NHC package

Fifth place: Michael Holland

Final bankroll: $34,400

Prize: $13,750 + NHC package

For more of the leaderboard, go to https://www.xpressbet.com/landing/leaderboard.aspx